Hibiscus richardsonii


Hibiscus: Name of very ancient origin used by the Roman poet Virgil for the marsh mallow plant.

Common Name(s)

native Hibiscus, puarangi

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Threatened - Nationally Critical

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Threatened - Nationally Critical
2004 - Threatened - Nationally Endangered


2012 - CD, EF, Sp, TO
2009 - EF, Sp, TO


Hibiscus richardsonii Lindl.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


Has been erroneously referred to Hibiscus trionum L.


Indigenous. New Zealand, North Island, from Te Paki eastward to Hicks Bay, including Great Barrier and Mayor (Tuhua) Islands. Also Australia (New South Wales)


Strictly coastal, growing in recently disturbed habitats, such as around slip scars, within petrel colonies, on talus slopes, and under open coastal scrub and forest. At Mayor (Tuhua) Island it is associated with an old pa site. The seed is long-lived, and has a persistent seed bank, such that this species often appears following major habitat disturbances caused by storm damage or fire


Annual to short-lived perennial herb up to 1 m tall. Stems densely clothed in stellate hairs when young becoming glabrescent with age. Lower leaves puberulent, suborbicular, entire to finely serrated, stem leaves pale green at first becoming purple-red with age, palmately 3-5-lobed, 10-60 mm long, puberulent, segments finely serrated (rather deeply serrated). Flowers solitary and axillary, rarely pseudoterminal; epicalyx segments (8-)10-13, free to near base, linear-lanceolate, calyx deeply campanulate; calyx teeth ovate-triangular, somewhat < tube in length. Petals (5)-10(-15) mm long, uniformly white, cream to very pale yellow, basally sometimes with pale reddish-pink striations. Capsule long persistent, with papery calyx. Seeds 1.5-2 mm, finely papillate

Similar Taxa

A naturalised race of Hibiscus trionum is often confused with H. richardsonii (see de Lange et al. 2010; Craven et al. 2011). It has larger, more deeply divided and lobed leaves, much larger pale-yellow to yellow flowers which open fully, petals which are consistently and distinctly basally blotched dark brown, purple-red or maroon, and larger seeds.


(September-) October - May

Flower Colours



(September-) June (potentially all year round)

Propagation Technique

Easy from seed. A short-lived perennial which behaves as an annual in colder climates. Frost-sensitive. Does best in an open, sunny situation. can be somewhat weedy, and has a very persistent seed-bank


Hibiscus richardsonii is very palatable to stock, and it is prone to being outcompeted by faster growing and taller weeds. As a species requiring open ground it is especially vulnerable to this threat. Previously regarded (as Hibiscus aff. trionum (AK 218967; New Zealand)) as Nationally Critical in de Lange et al. (2009)

Chromosome No.

2n = 28

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Seeds are dispersed by wind and possibly granivory (Thorsen et al., 2009).


Description based on de Lange et al. (2010). Fact sheet prepared by P.J. de Lange (September 2009)

References and further reading

Craven, L.A.; de Lange, P.J.; Lally, T.R.; Murray, B.G.; Johnson. S.B. 2011. The indigenous Australasian bladder ketmia species (Hibiscus trionum complex, Malvaceae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 49: 27–40.

de Lange, P.J.; Norton, D.A.; Courtney, S.P.; Heenan, P.B.; Barkla, J.W.; Cameron, E.K.; Hitchmough, R.; Townsend, A.J. 2009: Threatened and uncommon plants of New Zealand (2008 revision). New Zealand Journal of Botany 47: 61–96.

de Lange, P.J.; Heenan, P.B.; Norton, D.A.; Rolfe, J.R.; Sawyer, J.W.D. 2010: Threatened Plants of New Zealand. Christchurch, Canterbury University Press. 471pp.

Johnson, A. T. and Smith, H. A (1986). Plant Names Simplified: Their pronunciation, derivation and meaning. Landsman Bookshop Ltd: Buckenhill, UK.

Murray, B.G.; Craven, L.A,; de Lange, P.J. 2008: New observations on chromosome number variation in Hibiscus trionum s.l. (Malvaceae) and their implications for systematics and conservation. New Zealand Journal of Botany 46: 315-319.

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309

This page last updated on 10 Apr 2015